Some interesting info in this Jeremy Smith write-up for OutdoorNews. Few excerpt below:
> Jeremy Smith: “Several of us at Lindner Media Productions recently had the opportunity to work with MN DNR Fisheries staff from across the state on a pilot study surrounding winter crappie fishing. The study focused on barotrauma and its impacts on crappies.
> “…barotrauma refers to trauma caused to fish by rapid changes in barometric pressure. The most common cause [is] when fish are caught from deep-water…where the pressure is drastically different from that at the surface.
> “In some instances, signs of barotrauma may be obvious, such as bulging eyes, expanded swim bladder, or hemorrhaging around the mouth and gills. …however, less apparent signs go completely unnoticed.
> “For the purposes of the study, 50 crappies were caught from a relatively deep basin area. The water in the targeted study area was approximately 40′ deep, and most of the fish were found suspended around 30′ below the surface.
> “DNR staff placed a large hoop net that extended from the ice to the bottom of the lake. Prior to releasing the fish into the net, each individual was inspected for signs of barotrauma. The study classified the fish into one of 3 categories: severe signs of barotrauma (like bulging eyes, hemorrhaging, or bloated belly), moderate signs, or no signs of barotrauma.
> “The fish were left overnight in the hoop net and re-inspected the next day. During re-inspection, it was found that a large percentage of the fish were either dead or not dead but not releasable. A small percentage appeared to be in good condition and could be released.
> “A common deep-water release technique, known as ‘fizzing,’ also was attempted with another set of study fish. All crappies that had fizzing performed on them died. It’s important to note that the data from this study are purely anecdotal at this point. But the observations from this work will guide future, more formal research.
> “More in-depth studies surrounding the effects of barotrauma on fish caught from deep water currently are in the planning phase. Future research will attempt to provide more definitive details regarding the particular depths at which fish are affected by barotrauma.
> “Bottom line, it’s important to realize that just because a fish swims away doesn’t mean it will survive.”